Scientists can actually identify what we are thinking and now even feeling, Lesley Stahl reports on this Sunday's 60 Minutes. Her story on the use of functional MRIs and computer analysis to interpret human thoughts will be broadcast on Sunday, November 24, at 7 p.m., ET/PT on CBS.
Ten years ago, Stahl first reported on a team of scientists from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University who discovered a way to, in effect, read minds -- to identify the thoughts of people inside an MRI scanner when they thought about simple objects like tools and dwellings. In the decade since, the team has dramatically expanded the types of thoughts it can identify in the brain to emotions, highly abstract concepts, foreign languages, and even suicidal thinking. Neuroscientist Marcel Just tells Stahl that being able to peer inside our brains to identify our thoughts is a whole new frontier for science: "It's like being an astronomer when the first telescope is discovered, or being a biologist when the first microscope is developed."